The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an intergovernmental body of the United Nations that is dedicated to providing the world with objective, scientific information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of the risk of human-induced climate change, its natural, political, and economic impacts and risks, and possible response options.
The IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and was later endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly. Membership is open to all members of the WMO and UN. The IPCC produces reports that contribute to the work of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the main international treaty on climate change. The objective of the UNFCCC is to "stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human-induced) interference with the climate system". The IPCC?s Fifth Assessment Report was a critical scientific input into the UNFCCC?s Paris Agreement in 2015.
IPCC reports cover the "scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation." The IPCC does not carry out original research, nor does it monitor climate or related phenomena itself. Rather, it assesses published literature, including peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed sources. However, the IPCC can be said to stimulate research in climate science. Chapters of IPCC reports often close with sections on limitations and knowledge or research gaps, and the announcement of an IPCC special report can catalyse research activity in that area.
Thousands of scientists and other experts contribute on a voluntary basis to writing and reviewing reports, which are then reviewed by governments. IPCC reports contain a "Summary for Policymakers", which is subject to line-by-line approval by delegates from all participating governments. Typically, this involves the governments of more than 120 countries.
The IPCC provides an internationally accepted authority on climate change, producing reports that have the agreement of leading climate scientists and consensus from participating governments. The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was shared between the IPCC and Al Gore.
Following the election of a new Bureau in 2015, the IPCC embarked on its sixth assessment cycle. Besides the Sixth Assessment Report, to be completed in 2022, the IPCC released the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C in October 2018, released an update to its 2006 Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories—the 2019 Refinement—in May 2019, and delivered two further special reports in 2019: the Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL), published online on 7 August, and the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC), released on 25 September 2019. This makes the sixth assessment cycle the most ambitious in the IPCC?s 30-year history. The IPCC also decided to prepare a special report on cities and climate change in the seventh assessment cycle and held a conference in March 2018 to stimulate research in this area.